Exploring my historical fiction

detective with magnifying glass

For the past three months, I’ve been writing about writing for another blog. Together those three columns combine to form the main historical theme of Bloody Big Dry Blues.

William Faulkner: “The past is not dead, it’s not even passed.”

Exploring Historical Fiction: one way to start writing: My very entertaining unpublished manuscript’s plot weaves imagined characters and situations with fact. It tries to make complex historical predicaments accessible and relevant to our present day. A study in rhetoric, it focuses on how two propaganda campaigns overwhelmed their opposition. Between 1914-1919, Prohibition and the European War drove the narrative. I set my novel’s historical background by creatively destroying editorials from opposing viewpoints. Then I wove that material into the fictional narrative via dialogue. For concision’s sake, in this column we’ll focus on Prohibition.

Cover of Winsor McCay's "Temperance - or Prohibition"

                Cover of Winsor McCay’s “Temperance – or Prohibition

Walt Whitman: “At moments of social transition, people are often trying to see the past in order to move forward.  Weakly stimulated by the present, we compulsively return to the past, which has the effect of eclipsing the present, which makes us return to the past.”

Exploring Historical Fiction: contested memories and fresh starts: When looking back through our time-distorted cultural prisms, we either selectively remember or forget. Over time, that creates contested memories, wherein collective society forms misunderstandings. Those myths lead individuals to believe that whatever happened way back whenever was inevitable. But nothing could be further from the truth. Our historical narrative reconvenes in 1914, when Europe went to war with itself. President Woodrow Wilson declared U.S. neutrality, proclaiming all citizens “must be impartial in thought as well as action.” But following historian Walter Karp’s first rule? Look at what they do, not what they say.

"The American War-Dog" by Oscar Cesare

“The American War-Dog” by Oscar Cesare (1916)

Robert Penn Warren: “Historical sense and poetic sense should not, in the end, be contradictory, for if poetry is the little myth we make, history is the big myth we live, and in our living constantly remake.”

Exploring Historical Fiction: marketing place: Despite its basis in historical fact, Bloody Big Dry Blues is a fictional construct and I’ve taken creative liberties. How? As an avid amateur historian, I’m fascinated by the Central Texas region. Thinking about its history tends to end up with me playing the “what if?” game. Read this if you’d like to see how the fictional place where my unpublished manuscript is set became “Christianville” and Texas became “Texico.”


Plus this is something I picked up “Off the cutting room floor” and turned into a blog post.

Thanks for reading! And as always stay tuned for more!


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